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BWW REVIEW: The Farcical Comedy Of THE CHERRY ORCHARD Is Captured With Emotional Depth In Eamon Flack's Adaptation Of Chekhov's Last Work.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

BWW REVIEW: The Farcical Comedy Of THE CHERRY ORCHARD Is Captured With Emotional Depth In Eamon Flack's Adaptation Of Chekhov's Last Work.

Wednesday 2nd June 2021, 7:30pm, Belvoir St Theatre

Highlighting the precariousness of entitlement and shifting social status Eamon Flack's (Director) adaptation of THE CHERRY ORCHARD proves that Anton Chekhov's work retains a relevance in the 21st century as the mighty families can fall and those that once served may end up in charge. First performed at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1904, this work that focused on the Russian emancipation of serfs in the 19th Century is given a modern makeover which retains the comedy and tragedy of the shifting fortunes of a once prominent farming family.

BWW REVIEW: The Farcical Comedy Of THE CHERRY ORCHARD Is Captured With Emotional Depth In Eamon Flack's Adaptation Of Chekhov's Last Work. For those not as familiar with the work that is regarded as a classic piece of 20th Century Theatre and has been translated and adapted numerous times, THE CHERRY ORCHARD centers on Madame Ranevskaya's (Pamela Rabe) family's last days in their beloved property. The third largest Cherry Orchard in the region has been the pride of the old aristocratic family but Madame Ranevskaya's generosity and frivolousness has forced the estate into bankruptcy despite her daughters Anya (Kirsty Marillier) and Varya's (Nadie Kammallaweera) attempts to get her to see the danger of her compassion and largess. Prior to the sale the matriarch is bought back before the auction to pay the debts but her inability to understand the gravity of their situation sees the property sold to a new generation of wealth as Lopakhin (Mandela Mathia) the grandson of a former serf on the estate fulfils his vision of turning the land into holiday homes that Madame Ranevskaya rejected.

BWW REVIEW: The Farcical Comedy Of THE CHERRY ORCHARD Is Captured With Emotional Depth In Eamon Flack's Adaptation Of Chekhov's Last Work. Designer Romanie Harper has used a high degree of economy in representing the home and banks of the river that runs past the estate. Madame Ranevskaya's prolonged absence from the property and the grief associated with the nursery is indicated by both the way the nursery is packed up and the fact that it is the room in which Madame Ranevskaya wants spend time when Anya brings her back from Paris. The idleness of the upper class and the shifting boundaries of the lower class is highlighted with the expression of a riverbank picnic implied by glass jars of waterfront grasses bordering the space. Harper's minimalist set allows for a greater range of performer motion along with a brilliant Act 2 opener choreographed by Elle Evangelista. Harper's costuming ensures it is clear the work has been shifted to a more contemporary setting than Chekhov's original work, further aiding the ability of the work to connect with a modern audience.

BWW REVIEW: The Farcical Comedy Of THE CHERRY ORCHARD Is Captured With Emotional Depth In Eamon Flack's Adaptation Of Chekhov's Last Work. Flack's adaptation draws on naturalistic contemporary speech patterns, language, and phrases with a quintessentially Australian feel even though the setting remains in Russia. The boldest contemporary update is with the reimagining of Peter Trofimov, the former tutor of Madame's son that drowned and caused Madame to leave the Cherry Orchard for Paris and Anya's eternal student love interest, as Petya, performed by Priscilla Doueihy, adding in a queer element to the work. Flack ensures that the work contains a strong level of physical comedy in addition to the verbal sparring that occurs. Lucia Mastrantone expresses the eccentric and unusual governess with affected mannerisms while Sarah Meacham presents a dramatic and ditzy young housemaid Dunyasha, Jack Scott gives Yepikhodov a convincing natural clumsiness as the accountant dubbed "OhShit" and Peter Carroll gives the aging manservant Firs the requisite expression of a man trying to be the perfect servant while battling the ravages of time on his posture, hearing and memory.

BWW REVIEW: The Farcical Comedy Of THE CHERRY ORCHARD Is Captured With Emotional Depth In Eamon Flack's Adaptation Of Chekhov's Last Work. The cornerstone of THE CHERRY Orchard is naturally Madame Ranevskaya and Pamela Rabe gives the passionate widow a sensitivity and pathos while also exposing the absurdity of the lack of care for facing the reality of their financial situation. The younger generation of aristocratic origin present a more balanced view of the family's situation as Marillier captures the daughter Anya's 17-year-old innocence blended with a maturity and sensibility her mother lacks while Kammallaweera ensures the older adopted daughter Varya has the responsibility of managing the estate and trying to keep all the guests in line. The younger servants express the shifting divide between the haves and have nots as Charles Wu as Madame's manservant Yasha and Sarah Meacham as Dunyasha defy conventions around whether the help should be enjoying the same space and luxuries as their employers.

BWW REVIEW: The Farcical Comedy Of THE CHERRY ORCHARD Is Captured With Emotional Depth In Eamon Flack's Adaptation Of Chekhov's Last Work. This new interpretation and adaptation of this classic play connects with the audience easily as the work is shifted with recognizable traits and behaviors, making it more relatable to audiences wanting a fresh take on the work. This production of THE CHERRY ORCHARD is well worth catching as it balances the farcical comedy with social commentary that remains relevant, reminding modern generations to be mindful that fortunes can change easily if not monitored and it is better to be open minded than refusing to be open to change and loosing the farm.

https://belvoir.com.au/productions/the-cherry-orchard/#performance-cast

Photos: Brett Boardman


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